10 Things I Could Have Done Better in 2013

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Well 2013 is coming to a close and it is that time that I reflect on the year and think of the things I have kicked ass at and the things I could have done better. 2013 was actually the best year for business since I started my own business, which is good, but like anyone I still made mistakes and could have done many things differently, and more importantly better. So this will be the first post going over the 10 things I could have done better in 2013, which will be followed up with the 10 things I kicked ass at in 2013 in a future post.

So what could I have done better in 2013?

1. Delegate More – My plan for ThinkComputers is to turn my role into a more of a manager. I need to be actively searching for reviewers and writers to take the brunt of the work off of me. I had planned to do this in 2013, but it really did not happen. Hopefully I will be more successful with it in 2013.

2. Be a better judge of character – I try to see the best in people, but in reality many people are just not good people. In both my personal life and in business in 2013 I’ve had people screw me over. I think in 2014 I need to really be a better judge of character and if I see a red flag I need to get out!

3. Travel More – I did not travel nearly as much as I wanted to in 2013. There really was no reason for this actually. I guess I just thought I was “too busy” which was just a dumb excuse. I already have great travel plans for 2014!

4. Be Productive not Busy – This is a huge one. Many days I feel like I’m working all day long, but am I really? I need to be more productive in 2014, not just “busy”.

5. Do not take on too much work – One thing I really did bad in 2013 was take on a lot of work. I accepted way too many products for ThinkComputers and because of that the turn-around time for the reviews was just bad. I also took on other projects that I shouldn’t have. In 2014 I need to not take on more than I can handle.

6. Blog More – Yes I know, this blog has been off and on all year. Lately I have stepped it up with the new design and some really good posts. I hope to keep it going in 2014.

7. Help more people – One thing that I did not do as much in 2013 was help people out. Again I gave the excuse that I was “too busy”. Many people I know want to start their own companies and I want to be there to help!

8. Keep in touch with more people – I sort of lost touch with many bloggers and other internet friends over the past year. Maybe it has been because I have been “busy” but in 2014 I need to fix that.

9. Read More – I really have not kept up with my reading at all. I only read two books in all of 2013! On top of that I really have not been keeping up with blogs at all either. This needs to be fixed in 2014!

10. Do more things for myself – It seemed that for most of 2013 I was doing things for other people. This was an easy way to get taken advantage of. I rarely did things for myself or things that I knew would really make me happy in 2013. In 2014 that all is changing!

Well those are 10 things I could have done better in 2013! Stay tuned for a post about the 10 things I kicked ass at in 2013!

Increase Productivity by Going Out More

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Earlier this year if you asked me to go do something my response would have been something like “Sorry I’m too busy” or “I have too much work to do”. I’m sure you’ve said that to someone before as well. The funny thing is that lately I have been going out a lot, yet I have been much more productive. How could that be?

Well first lets examine why I was “too busy” before. Working for myself I set my own hours, deadlines, etc. Being your own boss makes it extremely easy to become lazy. I had been doing minimal work each day and was “keeping busy” rather than doing the important tasks that needed to be done. So I would put the important things off. This meant when someone asked me to do something I didn’t have time because I was rushing to get certain things done because I had been lazy.

Going out more changed all of that. If you truly have a good time when you go out that is something to look forward to right? Hence it gives you motivation to get your work done. If I plan on going out with friends at 7PM that means I have until that time to get my work done for the day. Instead of putting things off and working all day till midnight and not really accomplishing that much.

Going out with friends or even just getting out of the house will drastically improve how you feel as well, especially if you work from home. I’ve had times where I had barely left my apartment for weeks. I was extremely depressed and felt like going crazy!

So stop making the excuses, go out with friends, go to the gym, go see a movie, etc. Do not be trapped by your work. If you have the right motivation you can get all of your work done and go and enjoy life!

25 Things I’m Thankful for in 2013

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Well today is Thanksgiving and of course that means that you should reflect and think about all of the things you are thankful for. I did this exact same post last year and had quite the list. Wonder if I am thankful for some of the same things I was last year. So here are 25 things that I am thankful for in 2013 in no particular order.

1. The ThinkComputers.org Community – Since last year the ThinkComputers community has grown so much. For everyone who visits the site, posts on the forums, tweets us and joins the discussion on Facebook I really do appreciate it. You guys are what keeps the site going!

2. Eating Healthy – While I’ve always eaten pretty good, these past couple of months I’ve really stepped it up as far as healthy eating. I am constantly looking at labels, counting calories, etc. Not only do I feel better, but I’ve also lost quite a bit of weight.

3. Katie & Krissy – These girls have always been there for me no matter what. Whether we are going out, having a great time together or staying up and venting about something they are there for me.

4. Google Docs & Gmail – The ability to check my e-mail and work on articles from pretty much anywhere that has an internet connection says it all.

5. Hootsuite – Hootsuite makes it so easy for me to update all of my or ThinkComputers social profiles at once. It saves me so much time.

6. Trance and EDM – This past year I have really got back into Trance music. It really is uplifting music and always puts me in a good mood. I have gone to quite a few different shows this year, but my favorite would have to be New World Punx at Echostage.

7. WordPress – WordPress is what this website and many of my other websites are based off of. It makes it so easy to create a website and content.

8. Ed – My buddy Ed and I have been through a lot in the past year. He has always been there when I needed a friend and is always a positive influence.

9. Instagram – Instagram has provided an easy way to share life experiences. I know you all love my #foodporn photos!

10. The JCC – I finally joined a gym this year and it has made a huge impact on my life. Staying fit has become a big priority to me and just like eating healthy I feel so much better. I’ll probably do a post on this, but I’ve lost 20lbs already!

11. Family – At the end of the day your family is always going to be there for you. So thankful to have loving parents who have always been supportive of what I’ve done.

12. My Sony NEX-5R – I finally decided to get a new camera this year! The Sony NEX-5R has made taking product photos so much easier and it really is a sexy camera!

13. Time – A weird thing to be thankful for right? But because I am my own boss I can make the time to reflect and relax. This is a very important thing.

14. Trader Joes – This comes back to the eating healthy thing. Trader Joes has so many healthy products. 90% of my grocery shopping is done there!

15. Entrepreneurial Friends – Many of my friends all of the world run their own businesses. I feel like many of us think differently from say my friends that I go out with. It is great to have these friends to talk business with a bounce ideas off of.

16. The Internet – Without the internet who knows what I would be doing for a job, so it is definitely something that I am thankful for.

17. The Holstee Manifesto – Click the link and read the manifesto. It is so true in every aspect. I have a poster of the Manifesto above my desk to whenever I am feeling down or not happy I look up and read it.

18. Ashley Miller – I’ve been friends with Ashley for so long! We were actually talking about this the other night, out of the people we have known since we met we are the only two that are still close friends. She’s a great friend and always there!

19. Ramen Bar – I think I’ve been to this place more times than any other restaurant in Pittsburgh. You can never go wrong with a big bowl of ramen!

20. My Job – Running my own business has been such a blast! No many people can say they enjoy what they do, its great to do what I love. It is also great to know that I am the one that controls how much money I am making.

21. The Four Hour Work Week – I’ve read many different business books, but I always seem to go back to the Four Hour Work Week when I need motivation.

22. People that I Inspire – There are many people that message me asking for advice, tell me that they look up to me and that I inspire them. It is great that even though I don’t think I’m a big deal or something like that there are people that do. You guys motivate me to keep on doing what I am doing!

23. Meat & Potatoes – Ok so Meat & Potatoes has to be my favorite restaurant in the city when it comes to food quality, flavor and atmosphere. I try to go there atleast once a month! If you haven’t been there you really need to try it out!

24. My Health – Another year older and I am still in good health. Being almost 30 and not having a major health issue is very relieving (knock on wood!).

25. New Friends – The past year and even in the past month I’ve met some really great people who have become people I hang out with all of the time. It is great to meet new people who are genuine.

Well that is my list for 2013, I could keep on going, but I think 25 is enough! Now what are you thankful for in 2013?

10 Years…

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Well my 10 year high school reunion is coming up and that got me to thinking, back when I was a senior in high school I worked at a grocery store and never had any money or was that happy. I was under the impression that college and getting a “real” 9-5 job would change that. Then I decided to risk everything, drop out of college and start my own business. You know what happened? I worked my ass off and built a business that not only allowed me to do the things I wanted to do, I was able to meet some of the most amazing people in my life, travel to places I never thought I would see and most importantly feel like I was actually part of something important that benefited other people.

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Why am I telling you this? Well for a two important reasons, the first and most important is to not listen to people who say “that’s a dumb idea” or “that’s impossible”. I’m sure you can imagine the conversation I had with my parents about wanting to drop out of college and start my own business, it was not pretty. And almost all of my friends at the time said to me, “that’s stupid” or “why would you do that”. If I would have listened them I could be working a job that not only I may not like that much, but that wouldn’t benefit other people. And of course there is the whole having a boss and everything that goes along with that. So do not get discouraged when people do not see your vision or think your course of action is dumb, remember you are doing this for yourself and not them.

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I’ve sure you’ve heard the line “hard work pays off” and I really do agree with it. No one is going to become successful without putting in the work, in the real world there are no hand-outs. The problem with society is that most people settle and they never strive for more. Even people who have important jobs, how much work are they actually doing each day? You would be surprised really. When I was building my business I literally had no life, I worked 16-18 hour days, never went out, hardly had a social life. Yes this might not have been the best idea but all that work has paid off in the end. I never work long days like that anymore, I go out with friends all of the time, and I am able to jump on a plane to visit friends or family. Once you see that your hard work turns into larger paydays it becomes addictive. You would be surprised at how lazy people can be and the excuses that they make, don’t be one of those people.

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In no way am I saying going to college and being funneled into 40+ hour work weeks at the same job for close to 40 years is a bad thing, I mean most of our society does it. But the alternative in my opinion is much for exciting and gratifying. Remember school and those jobs will always be there, take a chance.

In the end these past 10 years since my senior year of high school have been quite a fun ride and I don’t regret any minute of it.

Why I Decided to Live By My Own Rules and How You Can Too

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Many people ask me how I got started doing what I’m doing and they story always ends up with me telling them how I took the leap of faith and dropped out of college to build my business and be able to work on it full time. This is scary for a lot of people, and I had no clue that things would work out when I made my decision, but I knew a few things that I wanted out of life and following the “right thing to do” path was not going to allow me to do those things, or at least not right away. Since making that decision I have done things I could have never dreamed about doing before, met some amazing people and most importantly I am my own boss.

Getting back to making the decision you know the only reason I was in college is again because it was “the right thing to do”. At that point in my life I really did not know what I wanted to do and nothing really excited me except for computers and technology. I went to college for information systems technology and honestly I was bored out of my mind in class, that got me to thinking what do I really want? I thought about that for a good while and I knew what I was really interested in, it was ThinkComputers. I loved reviewing tech products and the idea that I was building a community around the site really excited me and made me motivated. Thinking about it was I wondering if I could actually make a living off of it so I started spending more and more time on it. During this time I also thought about other things that I wanted. One big one was to be my own boss, I mean who likes taking orders right? I also wanted to feel like whatever my job was I was actually making a difference or contributing to something. So in the end ThinkComputers was a win-win for me. It took a lot of hard work, but I was able to make a business out of if.

Now I’m not at all saying college is a bad thing or that you shouldn’t go down that route. You can be extremely successful by going to college, it just was not for me at the time. One quote that reminds me of my journey figuring out what I wanted to do with my life is this:

“The commonsense rules of the “real world” are a fragile collection of socially reinforced illusions.”

This quote is from Tim Ferris the author of the 4 Hour Work Week and basically it means that society has these rules that we are supposed to follow, but in reality we can do our own thing and it will be ok. Think about it, we are taught all through school that going to college is what you are supposed to do, then you are supposed to work a 9-5 or worse for 30+ years. Just think about that, sounds miserable right? Many of the worlds most successful people did not even complete college, but in the end that is not what this post is about. This post is about breaking away from the norm and doing your own thing.

So you know why and how I broke away and did my own thing, but how can you? Taking a large risk is hard for many people, but if you have the right mindset it is so much easier. Honestly I would suggest reading the 4 Hour Work Week. For me, it made me realize a lot, one of the most important things was that we don’t wish we had a million dollars, we wish we had the life that we believed that million dollars could buy. Believe me you don’t need to have a million dollars to live and enjoy life.

Once you have that mindset it will be so much easier for you to work on a project or to start your own company. Once you know the reward or have just tasted the reward a little bit, you are going to want it more and more and that will give you the motivation to really make it happen. That sort of what I did, I started to make money with ThinkComputers and month after month I was making more and more and I was only doing it part time. That was my taste and I knew if I was doing it full time I could make it a real business and not be stuck working an unfulfilling 9-5.

It’s been great living by my own rules and at times things have been hard, but I would never want to go back to the “real world” lifestyle that’s for sure. So if you are thinking about doing your own thing and going against the norm then go for it!